Nov 4, 2013

Circles of Perception

In the Bible, Satan is called the father of lies. Lying is Satan's MO and one of the primary ways that he works against us, including in our marriages and relationships.

Take a look at the diagram. The innermost circles are the minds and hearts of two people in a relationship. The outer circle is reality or truth. Only God can see reality in a way that is pure and undistorted. The rest of us perceive reality through our five senses and we color that perception with our thoughts, emotions, and experiences. This perception barrier is represented by the middle circles.

So, when an event happens, each person in the relationship sees that reality in a slightly different way, filtered through their own perception barrier.

Outside of the circles, Satan is working to insert his lies into our perception barrier. For a believer,
Satan cannot get inside us, but he can influence our thoughts, perceptions, and feelings. So, he inserts Lie A into your mind, and Lie B into your spouse's or friend's mind. Now the perception barriers are even more distorted. He orchestrates these lies to work against each other to create the perfect storm. These lies often come in the form of accusations against the other.Thankfully, God, the one who created reality and sees it perfectly is able to insert His truth into our very core, and He is on our side.

Let me give you an example. Mark and Susan have an older car and the expenses for repairs are becoming more and more frequent. Mark believes his family should have a new, dependable car and Susan thinks they should wait until their existing car dies. Mark is motivated by a desire to protect his family and Susan wants to be a good steward of their resources but the Accuser tells Mark that Susan is a cheapskate and Susan that Mark doesn't care about their financial security.

If a situation like this arises, first pray for God's perspective. He sees the situation objectively, with perfect clarity. Then take the time to ask lots of questions before accusing or jumping to conclusions. For example, “Can you help me understand the reasoning behind what you're saying?” “What financial numbers are we looking at?” “Are there options we're not looking at?” Gather all the facts you can and make a list of pros and cons.

As you seek to understand another's perceptions, remember that you are not perceiving reality directly either. As you explore, you may get some insight into your own barrier and see some possible misconceptions you may have that are contributing to the situation.

We want to spend less time convincing and more time understanding. We want the grace to give others permission to have their own perception barrier, to see the world as they do. As we work at discovering and understanding the perception barriers of others, we not only understand another person better, but we understand reality better, seeing it from a point of view outside our own. And maybe we can have fewer, less intense conflicts, and greater harmony.
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